Clemson defensive end Da'Quan Bowers beat out Auburn's Nick Fairley and LSU's Patrick Peterson to win the Bronko Nagurski Trophy for being the nation's top defensive player.

Bowers winning the award doesn't come as much of a surprise, as the junior led the nation in sacks and was second in tackles for loss in his breakout season.

After coming to Clemson as one of the school's most highly-rated recruits ever, Bowers didn't produce as expected in his first two seasons in a Tiger uniform. After losing both his father and friend Gaines Adams before the season, Bowers played inspired throughout Clemson's disappointing 2010 campaign.

"He's become the inspirational leader of our team. To see him being honored is really heartwarming for me," Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said. Swinney was the keynote speaker at the banquet.

Bowers finished the season with 15.5 sacks and 25 tackles for loss. He broke numerous Clemson records this season, including many set by Adams.